A CHARITY fundraising group from Darwen and Blackburn have marked a major milestone after raising £500,000 for local people affected by cancer.

Macmillan Cancer Support’s Darwen and Blackburn Fundraising Committee, which was founded in 1971, marked their half million-pound achievement with a celebration lunch at Astley Bank.

When the group formed 47 years ago, there were just two Darwen resident members and no cancer support in the Darwen area.

They helped organise various fundraising events, including balls, concerts, fashion shows and antiques fairs – with many hosted at Whitehall Country Club, Darwen.

Today the ten-strong committee still hold several successful fundraisers every year, including their popular afternoon tea, which is being held at Astley Bank Hotel in June 2019.

Its chair Catherine Waddicor, who joined the committee 10 years ago, said: “We are a small, but dedicated committee and we are extremely proud of what we have achieved raising £500,000 since we started 47 years ago. But credit must also go to those who formed the group in 1971, who had the foresight to help support local people affected by cancer.

“On behalf of the committee, I must say a big thank you to all our members, both past and present, and to everyone who has supported us over the years. With all their kind help and generous support, we have made and can continue to make a difference to the lives of so many people affected by cancer right here in East Lancashire.”

The group, whose current president Margaret Watson joined in 1973, is in her nineties but gives her continued support.  The committee are also grateful to the local businesses and publicans who have Macmillan boxes - an effective source of regular income.

The Macmillan team will be collecting outside Blackburn Rovers FC one matchday in March. They are also supported by the local branch of Santander, which holds raffles on a regular basis.

Hannah Richmond, Macmillan’s Fundraising manager for East Lancashire, added: “We are so grateful to the Darwen and Blackburn Fundraising Committee and everyone who supported them to reach this fantastic milestone of raising £500k, which will help us support local people affected by cancer.

“I’d also like to thank everyone within the community who has supported the committee over the years – whether it’s putting a pound in the bucket, attending an event, donating a raffle prize or organising something of their own. Every penny raised will make a difference to someone living with cancer.”

Anyone interested in joining the committee, supporting the group in any way or simply hosting a Macmillan collection box in a shop, café or office, can contact Hannah Richmond on 07809 554 958 or hrichmond@macmillan.org.uk